Thursday, January 17, 2008

God Promised He Would Come Back!

Yes, God did promise that He would return, but the title of this post is referring to the next guarantee I listed in an earlier post: If my husband leaves, I will claim God's promise that he will return.

The last guarantee I addressed was that if a wife remains submissive, her husband will not leave. I tried to put that supposed guarantee and this one together, but as I wrote I realized they were two very different events, and I chose to write about them separately.

So, I'm not referring to the second coming of Christ here; I'm referring to a wife who says that God promised her that her husband, who has left, will return.

I do believe that God sometimes makes a scripture come alive to an individual and that individual has faith and believes that God has personally promised that to them. I have no problem with that type of testimony. My problem is when that is given as a testimony and then the teaching follows that if you will...God has promised that He will... .

My pet peeve with Christian testimony services is that the testimonies are always success stories, success as defined by modern-day believers. Examples: 
  • I tithed the first dollar I made and gave a dime to the church. Now I'm a millionaire.
  • I lost my job. I prayed and believed and God gave me an even better job immediately.
  • My husband left me for another woman. I remained submissive and claimed God's promises and my husband repented and came back. He's now a better husband.
Great testimonies. Anything wrong with them? Doesn't God get the glory and we're so happy for these believers? Hmmm...

Here's my reality check. For every testimony I've listed above, I suspect there are dozens who would have to testify just the opposite. Examples:
  • I tithed the first dollar I ever made and gave a dime to the church. I still have a lower paying job, but God has blessed and I'm grateful for all He's done for me.
  • I lost my job. It's been tough. I have many friends who have lost their jobs. It gets pretty discouraging sometimes, but I know God loves me and He has provided. It might not be what I expected, but I am grateful for His presence and care.
  • My husband left me for another woman. I was deeply grieved. I don't think that's what God wanted him to do. However, God has strengthened me and enabled me to go forward with my life and to honor Him in what I do. My husband may not return; it's his decision. I am responsible to God for my life and my decisions. God loves me and is with me. I trust Him with my life, which cannot depend on another person to make me happy.
Which set of these testimonies is harder to give and to hear? Which set is reality? Which set is reality as presented in scripture?

Isn't it much harder to give glory and honor to God when He isn't blessing with material blessings? (Note: I use the word blessing loosely here.) I'm afraid we have been infiltrated with the health and wealth gospel, which to me is a distortion of the reality of scripture.

Back to the original guarantee that a husband will return if the wife is just faithful, believing, and submissive. There is no such guarantee in scripture. And maybe a speaker or a testimony giver doesn't mean to convey that message; maybe they just mean to give God the glory. 

My challenge: If God really is to get the glory, we need to have real testimonies. Can we not trust and believe in a God who is not a modern-day Santa Claus, giving us everything on our wish list? Sometimes I wonder.

My scriptural basis for my thoughts is again verses in Hebrews 11:
  • All the heroes of faith in this chapter, it is said of them: Not one received the promise...
  • God said of these faith heroes that He was not ashamed to be called their God.
  • God promised that His heroes didn't expect to receive their reward here, but looked forward to the heavenly city.
Claiming a promise and having that fulfilled is a real blessing and faith builder. Claiming a promise as we think it is promised and it is not fulfilled is an even stronger faith builder and a true blessing of learning to trust God no matter the results. May we all be believers of whom God brags and is not ashamed.


Brett & Kelly Burleson said...

WOW, I love these posts. Really makes you stop and think about scripture and how people take from it what best fits their situation at times.

SF said...

Regarding blessings!
Material ones are great! Who would turn one down!? But the blessing of peace when nothing changes is even greater! It's like God smiling on the inside of you.
It is the difference between embracing truth and just knowing it.
Thanks Mary, these are so great and thought provoking. Much I have had the opportunity to learn from you and that is a blessing!